Saturday 17 December, 2014
NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s declaration overnight that 2014 was the hottest year globally on record illustrates a deeply concerning trend for developing countries already feeling the heat of climate change.
Oxfam Australia’s Climate Change Advocacy Coordinator Simon Bradshaw said this announcement meant a staggering 14 of the 15 hottest years on record have all occurred since 2000.
“This year’s record heat was accompanied by another heft of extreme weather disasters. In late December we saw severe flooding from heavy monsoon rains wreak havoc on communities in Indonesia,Thailand and Malaysia,” Dr Bradshaw said.
“In Australia we are not immune. We’ve been confronted by another harrowing bushfire season, which are becoming worse as hot days become hotter, heat waves become longer and more frequent, and parts of Australia becomes drier.
Dr Bradshaw said whether the Australian Government liked it or not, this year it would need to step up its contribution to the global effort to tackle climate change.
“Encouragingly, 2014 was a game changer in international climate politics, from an historic accord between the US and China to the growth in global grassroots demands for action,” Dr Bradshaw said.
“China, the US and the EU – the world’s three largest economies – have already made commitments towards reducing their emissions for the post-2020 period. Now it’s Australia’s turn.”
“Last December’s UN climate conference in Lima gave us the first sign that the Australian Government is beginning to feel the pressure of the calls for greater climate change action, reluctantly making a modest commitment to the Green Climate Fund.”
Based on the scale of the global challenge, our capacity as a wealthy developed country, and our relative responsibility for emissions, Australia should plan to cut its carbon pollution by at least 40% below 2000 levels by 2025, 60% and 2030, and be moving rapidly to a carbon neutral and renewable energy based economy.
“As a developed country we have a further responsibility to support poorer countries in responding to climate change. This includes adapting to the impacts that can no longer be avoided, as well as building resilient low-carbon economies.
“Our $200m to the Green Climate Fund was a first step, leaving aside the fact it was drawn from our severely diminished aid budget, but only a small part of a larger obligation to support climate action in poorer countries.”
With the rise in global momentum for climate action and governments due to finalise a new global climate agreement at the end of the year, 2015 will be a turning point in international efforts to tackle climate change. And the sooner Australia gets on board, the better for all Australians, and the world at large.
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